The day, which started great for NCIS, just got even better. Hours after the veteran CBS drama set a new series record in total viewers, 22.9 million, its star Mark Harmon signed a new two-year deal to continue on the hit show. And with him on board, NCIS has been renewed for a ninth season, the first CBS drama to get a pickup for next fall. “It’s simply amazing that a show in its eighth season continues to perform at such an elite level,” CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said.
I hear Harmon’s new deal with NCIS producer CBS TV Studios will pay the star more than $500,000 an episode, which is in the range former CSI star William Petersen was at the same point of the veteran forensic drama. And just like Petersen on CSI, Harmon is being upped from producer to an executive producer on NCIS next season. Additionally, he has signed a production deal with CBS TV Studios for his company Wings Prods. which will be housed on the CBS lot. The setup is similar to the deal CSI‘s new star Laurence Fishburne inked last spring.
The deal for Harmon came ahead of schedule unlike the contract negotiations with NCIS co-stars Sean Murray, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette and David McCallum last year, which dragged well into the summer before all 4 closed new two-year pacts to continue on the hit series. With Harmon now set, Cote de Pablo is the only core NCIS cast member without a deal for next fall. Because she joined the show in Season 3, her contract expires at the end of this season.
NCIS, which has been shepherded by executive producer/showrunner Shane Brennan for the past few seasons, premiered on CBS in 2003 as a spin-off of the long-running action/legal drama, JAG. Its ratings have been steadily climbing, cracking the Top 10 in the show’s fifth season. Last season, NCIS became the most watched scripted program on television, with an average audience of 18.9 million viewers. It continues to be No.1 among all scripted shows this season and has actually increased its viewer average to 19.6 million. Additionally, NCIS has been one of the best-performing drama series in off-network syndication, with highly-rated reruns on USA, and internationally.
Harmon, repped by Paradigm and attorney Barry Axelrod, recently unseated Oprah Winfrey as the most popular TV personality in the annual Harris poll.